Allied Credit Consultants

November 19, 2016

Allied Credit Consultants is an Orlando based Florida debt collector with an office located at: 4700 Millenia Blvd., Suite #175, Orlando, FL 32839.

In a lawsuit filed in United States District Court in Orlando, the consumer alleged that during February of 2016, he received 3 telephone calls from Allied Credit Consultants and the originating telephone number was 888-855-7131. The first caller to the consumer from Allied Credit Consultants identified himself as “Scott Stevens,” Account Director from Allied Credit Consultants and paralegal. In a second call, the caller identified himself as “Michael Bennett” from “offices of Roth Morgan and Associates, and that his delinquent account had been “assigned to legal recovery.” Angel Rivera, an employee of Allied Credit Consultants used the pseudonym “Michael Bennett” in calling the consumer. Another caller used the pseudonym “Scot Stevens” in calling the consumer.  In the telephone calls:

a.  Allied Credit Consultants told Plaintiff that if he did not set up a payment plan that they would be sending my information out to some kind of credit bureau that would intercept money out of any bank account he had; and

b.  Allied Credit Consultants told Plaintiff that they would garnish his wages from his work and out of his paycheck.

c.  Allied Credit Consultants communicated with a Plaintiff by telephone in a manner that gave the false impression and appearance that they were associated with an attorney. All of these acts, if proven, constitute violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Are you being harassed by Allied Credit Consultants?

Collection Calls from Unifund CCR Partners

May 28, 2014

Unifund CCR Partners was founded in 1986 and was one of the first companies to purchase defaulted consumer receivables. Unifund‘s founder and chief executive officer, David G. Rosenberg, founded Unifund to purchase and collect returned checks. In 1989, Unifund began buying distressed loan portfolios on a national scale from small banks and retailers. One year later, the company began purchasing portfolios from large financial institutions. Unifund CCR is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, and it is one of the largest buyers and operators of consumer debt in the nation.

In Unifund CCR Partners vs. Youngman, the court reversed a lower court order granting Unifund CCR Partner’s motion for summary judgment. Unifund CCR alleged that it was the assignee of Chase Bank, and sued the consumer for breach of contract and account stated, seeking to recover attorneys’ fees and the balance owed on a credit card issued to the consumer. The lower court granted Unifund CCR’s motion for summary judgment, but the appellate court held that the consumer’s cross motion for summary judgment should have been granted instead. The Appellate Court concluded that, to establish standing, Unifund CCR was required to “submit evidence in admissible form establishing that Chase had assigned its interest in [the consumer’s] debt to [Unifund CCR],” but it failed to do so. Unifund CCR submitted an affidavit of its agent, a “Legal Liaison” employed by Unifund CCR rather than Chase, as well as credit card statements and account balance documents. The Court found that Unifund CCR did not submit the “requisite business records to establish its standing.” The “Legal Liaison” employed by Unifund CCR did not establish personal knowledge of Chase’s business practices or procedures, and failed to establish “when, how, or by whom the credit card statements and account balance documents were made and kept.” Because Unifund CCR did not establish a proper foundation for the admission of the credit card statements and account balance documents under the business record exception to the hearsay rule, the appellate court held that Unifund CCR did not establish its standing as assignee of Chase Bank. Thus, the consumer’s motion for summary judgment against Unifund CCR was granted.

Wrong Number” Calls from Debt Collectors

November 25, 2012

Have you ever received calls from debt collectors for a person completely unknown to you? These “wrong number” calls are usually the result of collection calls being made to the person who owned the telephone number immediately prior to you. What do you do about these wrong number calls? My advice is to tell the debt collector that you are not the person that she/he is trying to contact and ask them to stop calling. However, this common sense approach often does not work because the debt collector does not believe the person that she/he spoke with. The collecting caller may believe that the person called is actually the true debtor and is trying to avoid the call by saying that it was a “wrong number.” If the debt collector keeps calling after being told that they have the wrong number, in this author’s opinion, the continued calls constitute harassment under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

In addition, the “wrong number” calls could be in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The TCPA prohibits calls using a pre-recorded or artificial voice to deliver a message to a consumer unless there is a previous business relationship or consent for the call by the consumer. With most calls made by the debt industry to a consumer, the previous business relationship between the creditor and the consumer is sufficient to allow the debt collector to utilize a pre-recorded message. However, with wrong number collection calls, such a previous business relationship is lacking. Bringing suit under the TCPA premised on wrong number debt collection calls can result in substantial claimed damages. The TCPA provides for a statutory penalty of $500.00 per call and that amount increases to $1500.00 per intentional violation.

For more information, visit us at Stop Debtor Harassment or Consumer Rights Orlando.

Debt Collectors May Seek You Out Via Facebook

September 20, 2012

Facebook is great for looking up that girl who stole your lunchbox in preschool. Being clever enough on Twitter can land you a book deal. And if you’re a debt collector, social media is remarkably helpful in helping you to track down people who haven’t paid their bills.

“Between Facebook and LinkedIn—a lot of people show up online in different places. They don’t even realize,” says Howard Beloff, president of CSRS Collections, a small collection agency in Rockville, Md.

Beloff’s company collects on a variety of debts: late rent, medical companies, delinquent private school tuition. In many cases, he says, especially in those of people who have amassed rent bills, these debtors have moved and are hard to find. That’s where the investigative work of debt collecting comes in. And in the arsenal of tools at their disposal, debt collectors find social media an immensely helpful addition.

A few decades ago, collectors had to rely old-school tools like the White Pages for basic information on whether a debtor had moved or changed phone numbers. The Internet changed that completely, says Mark Schiffman, spokesperson for ACA International, a trade group of credit and collection professionals.

“From a tech perspective, it’s easier access to public information, versus having 50 phone books or 100 phone books in my office,” Schiffman says. “Now you have the Internet and people putting information that’s publicly available out there. People are putting out a little billboard” for themselves, he says.

That’s not all of the help that the Internet affords collectors. Some states put their court records online, and online “skip tracing” sites help agencies find potential addresses for debtors.

It sounds like a lot of avenues to pursue, just to track down where someone lives. But all this online information can be used for much larger purposes. An up-to-date LinkedIn site can give a collector easy information on if and where that person works, says Beloff, which is valuable information for a collection agency that wants to garnish a debtor’s wages. In other words, put information—a public Facebook status, a LinkedIn update, a tweet—about getting hired at a new job onto the internet and collectors get a signal that you might have money available.

Simply reading what a debtor has made public on social media is not illegal, and it’s hard to argue it’s unethical; collectors are simply using available information. Still, there are strict laws ensuring that the investigation goes little further. While a debt collector can look at a debtor’s Facebook page, Twitter feed, or LinkedIn listing for information, for example, she can’t tweet, message, or even E-mail the debtor with information about outstanding balances.

One collector talks about the difference between acceptable tactics and those that venture into deceptive territory.

“If I were to be a bit surreptitious and if I were to actually try to become your friend on Facebook and you were to accept me as a friend on Facebook, I would get access to all kinds of really, really good information on you,” says Bill Bartmann, CEO of Oklahoma-based debt collection company CFS II. That kind of deception, he says, is different from simply Googling or Facebook-searching a debtor.

Schiffman says that while complaints have been filed with the government over the use of social media in collections, he does not believe that the use of social media has led to a spike in complaints. Still, debt collection complaints have risen in recent years, from 128,000 in 2009 to nearly 152,000 in 2010, and again to nearly 181,000 in 2011.

According to data supplied by ACA, debt collections have also grown recently. Collections at third-party debt collectors totaled $44.6 billion in 2010 , up more than $4 billion from 2007, before the crisis, though employment at those firms was down slightly over the same period.

However, the population of debtors to pursue is growing: Roughly one in seven Americans—slightly more than 14 percent—is being pursued by a debt collector, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. That’s up substantially from mid 2003, when the figure was around 9 percent. The amount available to collect is up, too, from around $900 per debtor then to over $1,500 now.

While a certain, small percentage of debtors habitually run up bills and neglect to pay them, says Bartmann. the recent economic downturn brought a new population onto the debtor rolls: people not used to being pursued. While some may be facing financial hardship and be unable to pay, there are many others who want to get their debts discharged quickly.

He feels that this new population has, in some ways, made collections easier.

“Are customers more apt to pay now than in previous economic cycles? That answer is yes,” Bartmann says.

Still, he advises caution to anyone making too much of their lives public online. His word of advice to debtors: “Be careful what you put out there.”

That, he says, or just pay your bills as best you can. Neglecting to pay altogether can make prices higher and credit tougher to get for everyone.

Beloff agrees: “The thing is, is that for anybody who pays their bills, they should hate people who don’t.”

U.S. News & World Report

By Danielle Kurtzleben

Letter Stating that Student Loan is “Ineligible for Bankruptcy Discharge” is False, Deceptive and Misleading Statement under FDCPA

September 12, 2012

Student loans are presumptively nondischargeable in bankruptcy.  However, student loans can be discharged in bankruptcy if a debtor demonstrates, by a preponderance of the evidence, that requiring their repayment would impose an undue hardship on the debtor.   To seek an undue hardship discharge of student loans, a debtor must commence an adversary proceeding by serving a summons and complaint on affected creditors.  To succeed in such a proceeding, the debtor must show: (1) that the debtor cannot maintain, based on current income and expenses, a ”minimal” standard of living for herself and her dependents if forced to repay the loans; (2) that additional circumstances exist indicating that this state of affairs is likely to persist for a significant portion of the repayment period of the student loans; and (3) that the debtor has made good faith efforts to repay the loans.

With this state of the law as a background, would a statement to a consumer that her/his student loan was “ineligible for discharge in bankruptcy” be deemed a false statement under the FDCPA?  The Second Circuit recently responded to this question in the affirmative.

In Easterling v. Collecto, Inc., 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 18444 (2d Cir. N.Y. Aug. 30, 2012), Berlincia Easterling obtained a student loan.  Approximately 4 years later she filed for bankruptcy, however, in her petition, she classified the student loan as non-dischargeable.  Accordingly, her student loan was not discharged.  When the debt collector for the Department of Education learned about the bankruptcy, it sent Easterling a letter advising her that her account was “NOT eligible for bankruptcy discharge.  After receiving the letter, Easterling filed a claim under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), contending that the collection letter’s statement that her student loan was “ineligible for bankruptcy discharge” was false, deceptive, or misleading under the least sophisticated consumer standard.  The District Court granted defendant/debt collector’s motion for summary
judgment.  Easterling appealed.

The Second Circuit held that the debt collector violated the FDCPA’s proscription against false, misleading, or deceptive practices by sending the debtor a collection letter incorrectly informing her that her student loans were “ineligible for bankruptcy discharge” because, although the debtor may have faced significant hurdles to discharging her student loans in bankruptcy, the least sophisticated consumer would have interpreted the letter as representing, incorrectly, that bankruptcy discharge of her loans was wholly unavailable to her.  The appellate Court concluded that the letter’s capacity to discourage debtors from fully availing themselves of their legal rights rendered its misrepresentation exactly the kind of abusive debt collection practice that the FDCPA was designed to target.

For more information about the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or, its state law counterpart, the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act, visit us at:

Stop Collection Harassment; or Consumer Rights Orlando

Eleventh Circuit reaffirms application of FDCPA to mortgage foreclosure actions

July 22, 2012

Since 2009, debt collectors in the Eleventh Circuit (Florida, Georgia and Alabama) who were contacting consumers in connection with mortgage foreclosure actions relied on the decision of Warren v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 342 F. App’x 458 (11th Cir. 2009) for protection from suit because that decision held that enforcement of a security interest through the foreclosure process is not debt collection for purposes of the FDCPA. However, creditors can no longer seek refuge in Warren v. Countrywide Home Loans, supra, since publication of the opinion in Reese v. Ellis, Painter, Ratterree & Adams, LLP , 678 F.3d 1211 (11th Cir. 2012).  Reese held that an entity that regularly attempts to collect debts can be a “debt collector” under the FDCPA even when that entity is also enforcing a security interest. 

The Reese holding was recently reaffirmed in Birster v. Am. Home Mortg. Servicing, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 14660 (11th Cir. Fla. July 18, 2012).  In this case, the Birsters owned a home in Jupiter, Florida which they refinanced through Option One.  The Birsters ceased making mortgage payments on or around June 1, 2008.  The promissory note and mortgage provided that any missed payment by the Birsters places the loan into a default status.  On July 30, 2008, AHMSI began servicing the loan and initiating collection activities.   On February 2, 2009, U.S. Bank, N.A., as the trustee for the lienholder, initiated foreclosure proceedings against the Birsters.  In their FDCPA lawsuit, the Birsters alleged that AHMSI began its relentless assault on them in 2008.  According to the Birsters, AHMSI called them multiple times on a daily basis to collect the past due amounts.  The Birsters further alleged that most of these calls occurred after AHMSI knew that Angela suffered from an inoperable glioma (brain tumor) that cannot be diagnosed as cancerous or non-cancerous.  As early as April 16, 2009, the Birsters informed AHMSI that they were represented by an attorney, and provided AHMSI with the attorney’s name and phone number.  The Birsters advised AHMSI to contact their attorney and to cease contacting them directly.  AHMSI nevertheless continued its direct communications with the Birsters.  The Complaint further alleged that during these calls, AHMSI used offensive and abusive language towards Mrs. Birster and made false representations that the Birsters’ home was scheduled for a foreclosure sale.  Mrs. Birster also alleged that after a particularly abusive call on May 5, 2009, she collapsed in her front yard and was rushed to a nearby hospital.  Once the calls ceased, the Birsters claim AHMSI then began intimidating and harassing them at their home.  AHMSI sent agents to “inspect” the property, despite knowing the Birsters resided there.  Although AHMSI was initially inspecting the property on a monthly basis, AHMSI soon began visiting the Birsters’ home every day or every other day.  AHMSI’s home inspections even occurred on Thanksgiving and Christmas days.  The Birsters alleged AHMSI’s actions caused Angela to suffer a deep depression and anxiety, resulting in her attempted suicide. 

The district court granted summary judgment to AHMSI after concluding the Birsters’ allegations related solely to efforts by AHMSI to enforce a security interest, rather than to collect a debt.  Thus, the district judge concluded that the actions of AHMSI were not covered by the FDCPA.  Based on the holding in Reese, supra, the Eleventh Circuit reversed the order granting summary judgment.

For more information about the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, ot, its state law counterpart, the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act, visit us at: